The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
Therese Martin (of Lisieux)
Edited by T. N. Taylor<
The Echo Library, 2006
I found this book by reading another book (The Happiness Project); the author had read it and found it inspiring. She was right, it is inspiring. From a very early age Therese Martin knew she was destined to serve God in a cloistered convent. She believed the whole of her life was under Divine Guidance and she sought to please the only One she truly loved. She entered the convent young, at age 15 in 1888 and died young as well, a short 9 years later in 1897.
Chapter I: Earliest Memories – God, in His goodness, did me the favour of awakening my intelligence very early, and He has imprinted the recollections of my childhood so deeply in my memory that past events seem to have happened but yesterday. Pg 14
Chapter II: A Catholic Household – When I was six or seven years old I saw the sea for the first time. The sight made a deep impression on me, I could not take my eyes off it. its majesty, and the roar of the waves, all spoke to my soul of the greatness and power of God. Pg 26
Chapter III: Pauline enters the Carmel – I do not know how to describe this extraordinary illness. …I seemed nearly always to be delirious;… . But if God allowed the devil to approach me in this open way, Angels too were sent to console and strengthen me. Pg 31
Chapter IV: First Communion and Confirmation – But I would not and I could not tell you all. Some things lose their fragrance when exposed to the air, and so, too, one’s inmost thoughts cannot be translated into earthly words without instantly losing their deep and heavenly meaning. Pg 36
Chapter V: Vocation of Therese – In those days I did not dare to speak of my inner feelings; the road which I trod was so direct, so clear, that I did not feel the need of any guide but Jesus. Pg 46
Chapter VI: A Pilgrimage to Rome – I should have liked to wandered along among its ruins [of Pompeii], meditating on the instability of human things, but such solitude was not to be thought of. Pg 60<
Chapter VII: The Little Flower Enters the Carmel – At last my desires were realized, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials. Pg 63<
Chapter VIII: Profession of Soeur Therese – Our Lord has no need of books or teachers to instruct our souls. He, the Teacher of Teachers, instructs us without any noise of words. I have never heard Him speak, yet I know he is within me. Pg 77<
Chapter IX: The Night of the Soul – When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and the eternal possession of God, I do not feel any joy therein, for I sing only of what I wish to believe. Sometimes, I confess, a little ray of sunshine illumines my dark night, and I enjoy peace for an instant, but later, the remembrance of this ray of light, instead of consoling me, makes the blackness thicker still. Pg 84
Chapter X: The New Commandment – When the Divine Master tells me to give to whosoever asks of me, and to let what is mine be taken without asking it again, it seems to me that He speaks not only of the goods of earth, but also of the goods of Heaven. Besides, neither one nor the other are really mine; I renounced the former by the vow of poverty, and the latter gifts are simply lent. If God withdraw them, I have no right to complain. Pg 91
Chapter XI: A Canticle of Love – My God, Thou knowest that I have ever desired to love Thee alone. It has been my only ambition. Thy love has gone before me, even from the days of my childhood. It has grown with my growth, and not it is an abyss whose depths I cannot fathom. Pg 103
Sister Therese achieved a level of humility and piety few people will ever rise to; reading her autobiography was both inspiring and humbling. And, if I must be completely honest, a bit annoying at times. She was just so willing to suffer for the sake of her faith, so willing to let go of herself to serve others, and so willing to be shaped and molded into what she believed God wanted, she set an ideal too high for an ordinary feline or human to achieve – at least with Divine Grace.
Rating: 5 out of 5 paws.
Therese as a child